Will Charles Aznavour cancel his December 29, 2017 Haiti concert or proceed with the risky gamble?
As Haitians welcome the end of a very difficult year, some are hoping desperately for any form of good news, especially the impoverished 10 million dark-skin souls who inhabit the western part of the island, once named Ayiti by its native Tainos.
The year began with the few foreign-rooted families that control the Haitian economy rejecting the daily minimum wage increase (800 Haitian Gourdes or $12 U.S.) that legislators, labor organizations, artists and activists deemed urgent and necessary considering severe unemployment compounded by inflation. There has been several unexplained hikes in the cost of fuel and basic necessities. These products are generally imported from overseas by the same light-skin families who control the right-wing, fraudulently elected, foreign-backed and embarrassingly unpopular puppet government of Jovenel Moise.
Over the summer and fall, large street demonstrations engulfed Haitian cities fueled, in part, by a parliamentary inquiry which confirmed that nearly $4 Billion of Petro Caribe funds have been stolen mainly during the administration of Michel Joseph Martelly.
It is against this backdrop that 93 year old French superstar Charles Aznavour landed in Haiti on December 27, 2017 to perform a $100-$250 per single seat concert, up the mountains of Petion-Ville. Aznavour is the special guest of none other than Olivier Martelly.
The announcement of this peculiar event shocked many Haitians who have witnessed, in recent years, strange judicial procedures against Olivier Martelly and several members of his family who stand accused of embezzling billions from Haitian government coffers. There are indeed several troubling, as yet unresolved, drug-related disappearances, kidnappings, and even murders in the closets of Haiti’s extravagant new rich.
Aznavour who counts many fans in Haiti, has been severely criticized for his association with Olivier Martelly and Haiti’s predatory families which have been described as forming a sort of Caribbean Rhodesian klan.
The artist’s facebook page has received several comments in the past hours. Many lasted only seconds before being blocked or deleted. Among those still visible on his wall, we can read Jimmy Cator’s who posted in French: “$100 to $250$ U.S. in a country where the population survives with 2€ a day…you are not a fault, that’s sure…I have nothing against…but to see a country where the government and the private sector are inapt to offer basic means of subsistence to the population…makes me wonder…a concert, not for the people but for the mafia, for the clan”.
I too have written a brief piece (in French) to alert Mr. Aznavour to the fact that Haitians who reject his untimely concert have very rational and logical reasons to do so. Many of us find it insulting and disgraceful that, against such a backdrop of stubborn, seemingly credible, evidence indicating those who invited him are engaged in money laundering, Mr. Aznavour would choose to go ahead with the shameful event.
Doors are expected to open at 7 pm. It is 5 minutes to midnight, the evening before.
Is it too late for Mr. Charles Aznavour to do the right thing? We shall find out, soon enough!